Displaying items by tag: fees
Direct Indexing: Effective at Taking Advantage of Volatility
There is no question that investing in low-cost mutual funds or exchange-traded funds that mirror a benchmark index is a popular strategy to potentially reduce the impact of fees on a portfolio. In fact, many of these passive index strategies have often outperformed more costly actively managed funds. However, while tax efficient, they are unable to fully take advantage of short-term market volatility, according to Neale Ellis and Matthew Michaels of Fidelis Capital. On the other hand, direct indexing has become an attractive alternative to a portfolio of low-cost funds and ETFs, and unlike owning a mutual fund or ETF, an investor directly owns a basket of individual stocks that tracks a designated benchmark index. The strategy also allows greater flexibility during periods of volatility to selectively harvest losses while still closely tracking the benchmark. This is due to the fact that individual equities tend to see much higher volatility than a diversified mutual fund or ETF. This increases the opportunity for tax loss harvesting. Realizing losses in a portfolio can offset capital gains, which creates tax savings. Failing to harvest those losses during periods of short-term volatility could lead to lower results, essentially leaving money on the table.
Finsum:While passive index ETFs are tax efficient, they are unable to fully take advantage of short-term market volatility, which is something that direct indexing can do.
Financial Planner: Direct Indexing is Not Better than ETFs
Allan Roth, founder of Wealth Logic LLC recently penned an article for etf.com where he provided his opinion on direct indexing vs. ETFs. While direct indexing is forecasted to attract assets at a faster pace than ETFs, according to a recent report by Cerulli Associates, Roth believes that direct indexing is not better than ETFs. While he does mention the benefits of direct indexing such as tax advantages, customization, and low annual costs, he asked, “But is direct indexing better than ETFs?" He added, "Generally they are not, in my view, at least not compared to the best ETFs.” He uses the S&P 500 as an example. Vanguard’s VOO ETF has a 0.03% annual expense ratio, while direct indexing typically has an annual fee of at least 0.40% annually. Roth does say that the 0.37 percentage point differential could be made up from the benefit of tax-loss harvesting in the early years, but he believes it likely won’t continue. That is because the stock market “generally moves up in the long run, so each year there is less and less tax-loss harvesting. Yet the fees continue.” In addition, after a few years, he says that “the tax benefit is minimal, and all that is left are fees and complexities.”
Finsum:Financial planner Allan Roth recently wrote an article for etf.com where he stated that direct indexing is not better than ETFs since direct indexing is more expensive and its tax benefits are minimal after a few years.
Can Direct Indexing’s Advantages be Duplicated by ETFs?
In a recent article for the Wall Street Journal, author Mark Hulbert defends the use of ETFs in opposition to people who say direct indexing is a superior method of investing. Many brokerage firms that have created direct-indexing platforms say direct indexing is better as it allows investors to create a customized index without stocks that they don't want and also can strategically harvest tax losses. However, Hubert believes that most of direct indexing’s supposed advantages can be duplicated by ETFs at a lower cost. For instance, customizing an index can be duplicated. According to Lawrence Tint, the former U.S. CEO of BGI, the organization that created iShares, now part of BlackRock, anybody could achieve the same result by buying a generic index ETF and then selling short the stocks that we want to avoid. Tint also doubts that direct indexing’s ability to harvest tax losses outweighs the cost savings of investing in a low-cost ETF. He stated that, over time, an investor who sells his losers from his direct-index portfolio will increasingly be left with a portfolio of mostly unrealized gains. So, the benefit of being able to decide when to take tax losses will fall over time. An investor will also have to pay higher fees each year to maintain the direct index. In addition, he also noted that tax-loss harvesting is only applicable to taxable accounts.
Finsum:In an article for the Wall Street Journal, author Mark Hulbert defends the use of ETFs against direct indexing as its ability to harvest tax losses outweighs the cost savings of a low-cost ETF, while customization can be replicated by buying an index and shorting the stocks you don’t want.
Active Fixed Income Management Fees Drop After Poor Performance
According to Investment Metrics' most recent fee analyzer report, active management fees dropped last year after underwhelming returns. U.S. fixed-income managers saw the largest reduction in fees, with a 7% average annual cut. In fact, post-negotiated fees for active managers decreased in most categories last year. The report was based on the analyses of almost 490 distinct accounts and co-mingled funds. According to Investment Metrics, the fee reduction trend appears to correspond to poor performance of active managers as most categories fell short of beating their standards. Scott Treacy, a research consultant at Investment Metrics, wrote the following in the report, “Normally, the fixed-income asset class protects investors when equity markets crater, but that did not happen in 2022.” He added, “Active U.S. fixed income disappointed in particular. Unfortunately, at a median level, active managers were not able to perform well in this environment.” While active managers had a chance to demonstrate that their expertise could shield portfolios during the downturn, the underwhelming results may put greater pressure on active strategies. Treacy concluded that “Those active managers that were not able to perform in the down market of 2022 will most likely see their assets go to passive strategies, or to other active managers that performed well in this difficult environment.”
Finsum:Active management fees dropped last year after managers produced underwhelming returns, with U.S. fixed-income managers seeing the largest reduction in fees.
ESG Funds Cost Three Times More Than You Think
While many investors who care about the environment have piled money into funds that focus on ESG strategies, they probably don’t know how much they are paying. That is according to a new study, which found that “at the average ESG fund, the effective fees can be three times what’s reported.” The reason for this is that ESG funds are nowhere near as pure as they look to be. According to a new Harvard study, on average, ESG funds have 68% of their assets invested in “the exact same” holdings as non-ESG funds. So, for every dollar you invest in an ESG fund, a little less than a third goes into stocks you could have gotten in a fund that isn’t ESG. The average ESG U.S. stock ETF charges 0.17% in annual fees, according to Morningstar, 0.05 percentage points more than non-ESG funds. Finance professor Malcolm Baker of Harvard Business School, one of the study’s authors, said, “Although only about a third of your money in the average ESG fund is distinctly green, you incur the fees on the entire portfolio. Therefore, you’re really paying three times as much for the thing you care about, the differentiated piece of the portfolio.”
Finsum:A recent study found that on average, 68% of holdings in ESG funds are the exact same as holdings in non-ESG funds, which makes these funds three times more expensive than you think.